Chugai licenses out early-stage cancer candidate to Menarini

Japanese biopharma Chugai, majority owned by Roche, has licensed out an early oncology prospect to Italy’s Menarini Group.

The deal will see a subsidiary of Menarini, the cancer-focused biotech known as Berlin-Chemie Menarini, get its hands on PA799, a class I PI3K inhibitor.

The drug came out of Chugai’s lab and has already been through a phase 1 for solid tumors in Europe, in which it “showed a good safety profile in the clinical trial,” according to a statement.

Monetary terms were not released, as is becoming increasingly common for these types of licensing deals, but Chugai is to get an undisclosed upfront payment, with additional biobucks in the form of milestone and royalty payments in the future.

Under the agreement, Chugai has granted Menarini Group an exclusive license for the manufacturing, development and marketing of PA799 across the globe.

“We are pleased to sign a license agreement for PA799 with Menarini Group,” said Chugai’s representative director, president and COO Tatsuro Kosaka.

“PI3K is assumed to be one of the important kinases in the signaling pathway for the proliferation, the differentiation and the survival of tumor cells. We hope that the development of PA799 by Menarini Group will bring benefit to the patients as early as possible.”

Chugai, 62% owned by Roche, appears to be following suit of its Swiss Big Pharma partner as a month ago, Roche too got shot of its cancer med GDC-0084, also an inhibitor of the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) pathway.

It too was in phase 1, but for an aggressive brain cancer, and was sold off to Oz biotech Novogen for around $5 million, with more expected to come down the line.